Elon Musk’s recent rebrand Twitter to X has many branding and marketing experts weighing in on the impact of the decision. It is a very timely and real case study on branding. On the surface, it seems like an ego-driven branding decision. 

Many organizational leaders are vulnerable to making these types of decisions–especially if they want to create a legacy by rebranding. A rebrand is a way for them to leave their mark quite literally and figuratively.  It’s a very tangible way for a leader to communicate their vision or a change in direction. But the problem with a decision to rebrand that’s driven by ego is that it runs the risk of losing key audiences. The leader may think they know their core customers and stakeholders best, but these assumptions often fall flat. 

Market research and audience testing is always recommended to guard against what I call “leader-knows-best branding syndrome.” In our experience, a rebrand is no different than any other change effort: it requires strong leadership and sponsorship, and involvement from leadership along the entire journey. But change leadership is what’s required for a truly successful rebrand. This includes the following key actions:

  • Establish the why. Clearly explain the rationale and vision for why rebrand now?

  • Collect input. Conduct market research and test solutions with key audiences. Listen to the customer and incorporate their feedback.

  • Define the audience-based benefits for the new brand and key messages. 

  • Conduct internal brand training to create a cadre of enthusiastic brand advocates. 

  • Activate the brand internally first and then externally to build buy-in and momentum. 

  • Reinforce the brand internally with people, processes, policies, and externally across every customer touchpoint.

So what’s in store for Twitter as it abruptly reinvents itself as X? Twitter’s brand equity was built over a 15-year period with a faithful user base who relied on the simplicity and consistency of the platform’s format of messages with 140 characters or less. Although Musk paid $44 billion for that brand equity, much of that value has eroded along with brand trust. With the launch of X he is signaling a new product and new brand promise–leaving users wondering if this change is about Musk’s ego or is there something in this for them. The change to X has been effective in getting our attention, but the proof will be in the delivery of a product that customers understand and need. 

As President of LMD, Holly builds partnerships, leads business development pursuits, and ensures LMD employees and clients have rewarding experiences. Holly brings over three decades of federal, global, and corporate...Read more